Eating Human Placenta

January 28, 2020

Eating Human Placenta

David Jones 0:02
Welcome to Hear Phyto, a podcast about herbs. Well, it's mostly about herbs

Jeanine Adinaro 0:06
Hear Phyto is what happens when you take one herb nerd, and one podcast enthusiast, and give them microphones. We're both herb loving acupuncturist who hear a lot of bad information about herbs.

David Jones 0:17
So in each episode, we're going to try and tease the good from the bad about one herb or supplement.

Jeanine Adinaro 0:22
I'm Jeanine

David Jones 0:23
And I'm Dave. This is Hear Phyto

Okay, I think we can probably start now... Holy cow, my levels are pretty high

Jeanine Adinaro 0:39
Why are your levels so high?

David Jones 0:41
I don't know, because I project because of my time in the theater.

Jeanine Adinaro 0:45
I project

David Jones 0:47
You can project. Nobody ever accuses you being soft

Jeanine Adinaro 0:50
No. No they do not.

David Jones 0:53
Okay. Hello, everybody. This is Dave.

Jeanine Adinaro 0:57
This is Jeanine

David Jones 0:58
And we are here with another episode of Hear Phyto, a podcast about plants. But today's podcast is not about plants, is it Jeanine?

Jeanine Adinaro 1:04
No, because our podcasts is actually about herbs.

David Jones 1:06
Well, and this is my point is the way we were trained in Chinese medicine, we talked about herbs and when you talk to other people about herbs, they tend to think of culinary herbs. And to be fair, most of the herbs that we use are plant based. But quite a few of them aren't. Let me set up today's herb with a little bit of story. This is a story from quite a long, from the very early 90s, when my wife is pregnant with our son. And some friends of ours, went to New Mexico on vacation and they came back with what's called a Zuni fetish. It's a little charm, and mom's supposed to wear the charm around her wrist while she's giving birth, and then she gives birth and before the umbilical cord is cut, the charm goes on to the child's wrist.

So like they're always connected?

Like they're always connected. And, and to be fair, this was probably way before cultural appropriation was a big thing. And we were like, oh, okay, cool. Here's a nice little thing. And then we got it in our heads that what we really need to do with some sort of ceremony afterwards that.... we were young.

Jeanine Adinaro 2:23
Yeah, yeah. The ceremony is when your neighbor brings you a tray of lasagna,

David Jones 2:26
Right? Well, this ceremony was, we were like, hey, to be fair, and labor and delivery when we were like, "Hey, I know you're doing important stuff. But we've got a move a charm from one wrist to the other before we cut that umbilical cord." And the doctors and nurses were like,"Yeah, no problem."

Jeanine Adinaro 2:43
That's so Austin.

David Jones 2:44
And then we were like, also, can we have the placenta to take home? they were like, "Sure, no problem"

Jeanine Adinaro 2:51
Sure, have your to-go bag of biohazard

David Jones 2:53
It was a to-go bag of placenta. And what we decided to do was take it home and while, once we had gotten my son to sleep, we went out with friends. I had dug a hole

Jeanine Adinaro 3:06
Was this same day?

David Jones 3:07
Nah, this is probably like a week later. And I had dug a hole and we're going to plant a tree but what we're going to do is we're going to take the placenta, put it in the hole, and then we would each take a momento something that was important to us put it in the hole as part of our wishes for my son's life.

Jeanine Adinaro 3:24
Okay.

David Jones 3:24
And then what we do is we bury the placenta, we plant the tree, and like it was supposed to take all the evil spirits away from the child. Right?

Jeanine Adinaro 3:33
Okay..

David Jones 3:33
And now I can tell you honestly, this is not something that we sort of bought into whole hog. This is not this wasn't part of our sort of a cultural thing. I it was just sort of kind of a cool, interesting thing to do. And the tree that we planted there died.

Jeanine Adinaro 3:51
It died!?

David Jones 3:51
It died and it's probably because I'm a terrible horticulturist

Jeanine Adinaro 3:55
What kind of tree was it?

David Jones 3:56
I dug something up like from nearby. I dug up a little seedling and then replanted it you poorly.

Jeanine Adinaro 4:04
Did you dig out three times the size of the cannopy?

David Jones 4:07
No. I told you about because I'm a terrible horticulturalist and nothing to do with evil spirits.

Jeanine Adinaro 4:11
Did you remember to water it afterwards?

David Jones 4:13
Once or twice.

Jeanine Adinaro 4:14
Yeah. I think I know why the tree died. I don't think it was evil spirits.

David Jones 4:17
And then promptly moved, like within a couple of days.

Jeanine Adinaro 4:21
Because the tree died?

David Jones 4:22
No, because we had to move and my wife giving birth just happened to be when our lease was up. Very poor planning on our part, but anyway, so this is by way of saying that even nearly 30 years ago, in the very early 90s, a request to take your placenta home was met with sort of like sure, whatever. It wasn't weird or the doctors didn't think oh, that's no, we can't give you a biohazard take home. They just let us do it. And and that's to sort of introduce the fact that today's herb in quotes is his human placenta,

Jeanine Adinaro 5:05
human placenta.

David Jones 5:06
So tell us a little bit about how human placenta is used or sort of you were going to talk a little bit more about sort of the history of it, right?

Jeanine Adinaro 5:15
Yeah. We're gonna start a little history. Did you know that there's an actual whole word for the act of eating a placenta?

David Jones 5:27
There's a word for the act of eating most things. So I imagine there is one for this. What is it?

Jeanine Adinaro 5:32
Placentophagy

David Jones 5:34
Now that totally makes sense, eating placenta, right?

Jeanine Adinaro 5:37
Yeah, but I mean, like, there isn't the whole word that just means eating french fries. Right. So my point is that eating placenta is so special, it gets its whole own word.

David Jones 5:49
Yeah, but coprophagy is, has its own word too, and that's eating shit.

Jeanine Adinaro 5:54
Again, I would argue that's so special that it deserves... like you don't have a whole special word for eating mushrooms.

David Jones 6:03
Fungophagy?

Jeanine Adinaro 6:04
No. Now you're just like making stuff up.

David Jones 6:07
Yeah, you know what I just made up? It's a neologism, fungophagy. You're welcome. Okay. Okay. Anyway, so placentophagy, so is it? So I guess if it's going to be used as an herb that it always has to be consumed orally, right? It's not a topical herb?

Jeanine Adinaro 6:20
It's not a topical herb, though there was a time period especially in the 90s where human placenta became a really popular additive to face creams because it was supposed to like make you all young and youthful looking.

David Jones 6:33
Okay.

Jeanine Adinaro 6:34
That's fallen out of fashion.

David Jones 6:36
All right, so we know the word for it now.

Jeanine Adinaro 6:38
Right? You want to talk about the Kardashians?

David Jones 6:41
Almost never

Jeanine Adinaro 6:42
Yeah, me too. But they are our favorite people that we hate on the internet right like and I'm convinced that's why they are so popular on the internet because people just love to hate them like

David Jones 6:54
I don't even know how many there are.

Jeanine Adinaro 6:56
Does it matter?

David Jones 6:57
Is there like a collective noun? We're talking about words. Is there a collective noun for Kardashians?

Jeanine Adinaro 7:02
I don't know. But Kim Kardashian and Kourtney Kardashian both have made lots of internet blog posts and Instagram, you know, whatever, splash on the internet about eating their own placentas after giving birth.

David Jones 7:19
Okay.

Jeanine Adinaro 7:19
Alicia Silverstone too, which I don't know somehow I find it sort of interesting because she's a vegan.

David Jones 7:25
Not anymore, she's not

Jeanine Adinaro 7:26
Right. So does it count? Are you still a vegan if you eat your own flesh? I....

David Jones 7:31
I don't know. Yeah, I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I mean, no animals were harmed in the eating of your own flesh. I don't know long as you don't put honey on it. I suppose you're fine.

Jeanine Adinaro 7:40
These folks are not the first to make a big splash in pop culture, with placenta eating. I found a reference to an article in 1998 the BBC Channel Four got an official reprimand for showing a woman's after birth being served up as a pâté by some celebrity chef and the placenta had been fried with shallots and garlic, flambéed, pureed and served on focaccia bread, and they had some sort of party with like 20 of the moms relatives and friends where they served it. Now I didn't see the episodes, I'm assuming that they knew what they were eating.

David Jones 8:19
That they weren't surprise cannibals?

Jeanine Adinaro 8:21
Right. I think they knew about it.

David Jones 8:24
Um, man, could you imagine how bummed out you'd be if someone was like, Oh, and by the way, you're a cannibal now, you just ate my placenta

Jeanine Adinaro 8:32
In for a penny in for a pound.... Give me that arm.

David Jones 8:35
I would never stop vomiting. Anyway, so so so they got they got in trouble.

Jeanine Adinaro 8:40
Yeah, but whatever

David Jones 8:41
For showing the eating of human placenta.

Jeanine Adinaro 8:43
Yes.

David Jones 8:44
All right.

Jeanine Adinaro 8:44
Yeah. Well, I think they might show the cooking too. Anyway,

David Jones 8:49
today on master chef,

Jeanine Adinaro 8:50
yeah, the secret ingredient today.... This is not an activity that's confined to the west though. This goes on in Asia as well. Kinda regular like,

David Jones 9:02
So now you're talking about the, you're talking about the use of human placenta, therapeutically.

Jeanine Adinaro 9:10
Like, specifically moms consuming their own placentas after delivery,

David Jones 9:14
But that's therapeutic, right? They're doing it....

Jeanine Adinaro 9:17
You're skipping ahead.

Okay. So I found this wonderful article in what I think is my new favorite newspaper. It's the South China Morning Post out of Hong Kong. And it's written in English, but it's like written in that really haughtly British English. Swear to God, they use the word thrice. And they weren't being ironic about it.

David Jones 9:18
Okay

All right.

Jeanine Adinaro 9:39
Anyway, they ran an article and it was explaining the whole how it you know, how you go about doing this and if what you need to know about getting your own placenta and consuming it after childbirth, and they had a top gynocologist explain that a woman who gives birth in a private hospital in Hong Kong and asked to take our placenta home has to sign an official form, stating that she knows that placenta is clinical waste and she knows their risks with consuming it. And then they go on to interview, you know, dula to the stars in Hong Kong, who explains that she, for a fee, takes the placenta and steams it with lemon, ginger and green chilies and then dries it in a food dehydrator and then grinds that into a powder. And it's and she's very, very accurate to point out that it's put into vegetarian gel caps.

David Jones 10:42
Good.

Jeanine Adinaro 10:43
I am fascinated by that. Um,

David Jones 10:47
that that part's important. You I guess you wouldn't want to use beef gelatin.

Jeanine Adinaro 10:50
Anyway. So this is a thing where you can pay to have your own placenta processed and encapsulated and it can cost anywhere between $200 and $400 depending on where you have it done and, you know post whether or not you're okay with non-gelatin capsules,

David Jones 11:10
A lot of times there's you when you find somebody who's doing something weird and making a lot of money for it. Yeah, you know, like there's always this sort of impulse to be like, man I'm in the wrong business and this time, no, no I'm not not in the wrong, not in the wrong business. That is not a business I wouldn't be want to be in. Could you imagine that if your business was steaming people's placentas and then drying them?

Jeanine Adinaro 11:30
I don't, I don't know. That doesn't sound like it be all that much different from making beef jerky.

David Jones 11:37
Yeah, but it's human placenta, doesn't the thought of that give you pause? Because it nauseates me to be honest with you

Jeanine Adinaro 11:43
No. I don't know maybe I'm more predisposed to cannibalism than you. We know which one of us is getting out of the plane crash.

David Jones 11:53
I know, right? Man, I'm gonna watch my back if wherever in the in a pass in a snowstorm. Okay, so now why is it time to talk about why they're doing this?

Jeanine Adinaro 12:04
Why are they doing it? Okay, so the reports that people say why they do this? Well, it's because it's supposed to ingesting your own placenta after giving birth is supposed to prevent postpartum depression and increase milk supply.

David Jones 12:20
Seem like good things. Are there any other ways to do that?

Jeanine Adinaro 12:23
Oh, sure. There's lots of other ways to do that. But they don't come with near the cachet of eating your own placenta.

David Jones 12:30
Is that a cool thing?

Jeanine Adinaro 12:32
Yeah, I don't know. But the better question is, is it true? Does it work?

David Jones 12:36
Well, do women get together at dinner parties? And they're like, Well, no, I had my placenta steamed and I'm taking capsules.

Jeanine Adinaro 12:42
Yeah, apparently Kim Kardashian got hers as a gift, like the encapsulation of her placenta was a gift and so she figured, "yeah why not. I'll give it a try."

David Jones 12:51
Rich people give rich people weird gifts. That's a weird gift. Like if someone had given that to me as a gift. I would reevaluate that friendship

Jeanine Adinaro 12:58
I guess they were out of ceramic elephants

David Jones 12:59
Out of ceramic elements. Okay, so why?

Jeanine Adinaro 13:04
So... I mean, so this is so this is the question right? Does postpartum depression, increasing milk supply? Does eating your own placenta actually are ingesting I should say your own placenta actually achieve this. And it turns out there is not a lot of modern scientific research that has been done on this. And in fact, there's only two studies that have been done in the last 50 years that seemed to address any of these questions

David Jones 13:28
Both have been done at institutions that have really weak ethics review boards?

Jeanine Adinaro 13:33
No, because the first study which was done in 2016, just looked at placentas just got placentas and say, okay, what's in it? Let's do a little analysis. And so they looked for iron.

David Jones 13:48
That seems like it'd be there

Jeanine Adinaro 13:49
And they looked for a panel of hormones,

David Jones 13:51
Okay.

Jeanine Adinaro 13:52
And what they found was, in fact, yes, there is iron in it. There's about the study, I read. said You know, it labeled, you know, there's this much iron per this much. And then it said, which is about as much as you would get from eating a can of sardines. To which I said, I don't know how much iron is in a can of sardines. I've never in my life felt compelled to eat a can of sardines. Is this a particularly high iron food? low iron food? I don't know

David Jones 14:22
How much spinach is that?

Jeanine Adinaro 14:26
well. It's in the same place on the table as three ounces of beef. So why they didn't just say it's about as much as you get from eating a hamburger

David Jones 14:34
That you don't even have to finish.

Jeanine Adinaro 14:36
Right,

David Jones 14:36
It's not even a quarter pound hamburger. All right,

Jeanine Adinaro 14:39
All right. So there is iron in it, okay, and a non-trivial amount of iron. And they looked for 17 hormones and they found 15 of them present. And they're the ones that you would expect to find there and particularly substantial amounts where estrogen, testosterone, estradiol, and progesterone

David Jones 15:00
That would all sort of make sense.

Jeanine Adinaro 15:01
Right.

David Jones 15:01
Right. And they surprised by finding these

Jeanine Adinaro 15:04
And they found enough that if you were to take and ingest it, you would have a clinically significant amount of those hormones like enough to affect biological change.

David Jones 15:15
Okay, so that is the mechanism there.

Jeanine Adinaro 15:17
Yeah.

David Jones 15:17
So the research said that it was, didn't the research say, meh?

Jeanine Adinaro 15:22
Yeah, I mean, that particular study was just like, is is what supposedly they're there.

David Jones 15:27
And it said, Yes,

Jeanine Adinaro 15:28
Yes.

David Jones 15:28
Okay. And whether it was therapeutically valuable?

Jeanine Adinaro 15:31
yes. Okay. So in 2017, there was another study. It was a small study, only 23 women, but they looked at iron deficiency, anemia. Post-partum depression was what they were trying to look at, because it is understood that one of the mechanisms of postpartum depression can be triggered by iron deficiency anemia. And it's common women give birth, they you know, lose a bunch of blood during birth. So their iron levels drop and then go back up in a few days. And so they looked at the iron levels during pregnancy on these women and then at several different points in time after delivery. It was a double blind study that some of the women got capsules with placenta, some of them just got filler. And there was no noticeable effect between the two groups of the hemoglobin levels between the ones taking the placenta and the ones just getting filler. Now, the researchers noted that both groups of women were already eating diets sufficient and iron, right? They were already getting plenty of canned sardines.

David Jones 16:39
All right, so they don't need any more

Jeanine Adinaro 16:41
And they and they freely admit, maybe the results would have been different if they looked at women who weren't getting enough iron in their diet. And they had given them the encapsulated placenta.

David Jones 16:52
So if maybe if you had given birth couple hundred years ago when you weren't as food secure as maybe you are now.

Jeanine Adinaro 16:59
Maybe

David Jones 16:59
then that would be a reasonable thing to give to a pregnant woman

Jeanine Adinaro 17:03
could be okay. Again though, does she not have a can of sardines available?

David Jones 17:08
Maybe? I mean, it depends if you're a rural farmer in the 1200s

Jeanine Adinaro 17:14
Eating fresh sardines?

David Jones 17:16
No, you don't have any access to fish at all. In by imagination, you know, you were growing rice

Jeanine Adinaro 17:21
By the way, I looked it up. I'm like, I'm when I was looking at trying to figure out how much iron was in a can of sardines. Chicken liver has way more iron than either beef or canned sardines

David Jones 17:34
Also something I'm not gonna eat. That was one of those things where I was required to try it once as a kid

Jeanine Adinaro 17:41
And that was plenty?

David Jones 17:42
And even even though it was fried, and in a little nugget. Yeah, I was like, Yeah, that's it, man. And I'll tell you who was happy that I didn't like them? My grandpa because that just meant more for him.

Jeanine Adinaro 17:56
No iron deficiency in grandpa

I couldn't find any studies that have done been done as far as milk supply goes.

David Jones 18:03
So the jury's out on whether or not that .... now it would seem though.... that if they if all of these other hormones are present was one of them prolactin?

Jeanine Adinaro 18:13
I can't remember now,

David Jones 18:14
doesn't prolactin have an effect on milk supply?

Jeanine Adinaro 18:15
Prolactin does have an effect on milk supply. But I don't remember what if they looked for that one or not?

David Jones 18:19
Okay. But if it were present, in insufficient quantities, then prolactin could have an effect on milk supply,

Jeanine Adinaro 18:27
potentially.

David Jones 18:28
Okay. Yeah. It's almost like it's in the name.

Jeanine Adinaro 18:30
Right. Okay. But so I mean, this is not like completely outlandish to think you could eat this, and it would have some biological effect.

David Jones 18:39
It doesn't seem like it's outlandish, but I don't think that the Kardashians are doing its therapeutic benefits, any anything good for it, right? Because it seems like when you get somebody who's sort of a who is famous for being famous, yeah. That the things that they do diminish all things good, right. So they diminish science. They diminish culture, they diminish everything they touch, right? It becomes tainted by, it gets a little bit of a Kardashian tarnish and that shit doesn't come off. Like once it's there, it's there.

Jeanine Adinaro 19:15
How do you really feel about the Kardashians? All right, moving on. It should be noted, consuming placenta, whether or not you're serving it up as canapee at a dinner party or just taking it yourself, in capsule form is not without risk.

David Jones 19:33
Well, so what would, speak to the risks of it.

Jeanine Adinaro 19:36
I mean, some of the risks are just the same as eating any food, right? You pick up salmonella, improper food handling, you know, that sort of thing, make yourself sick. But in the most very extreme case that the anti-placentaphegy like to jump all over,

David Jones 19:54
of course, of course there are factions

Jeanine Adinaro 19:56
Of course, there are factions

David Jones 19:57
Alright, so, this the anti faction, what are they, what are they jumping on?

Jeanine Adinaro 20:00
They're jumping all over, in June of 2017.... So the CDC puts out the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, where they report.... No, it's a real thing.

David Jones 20:11
I understand it's a real thing. But could you imagine like, like, that would probably be a not fun department to work in?

Jeanine Adinaro 20:19
Probably not.

David Jones 20:20
Right. You work in the CDC where morbility and mortality. What is it, morbidity and mortality? We call it m&m?

Unknown Speaker 20:29
It's the MMWR

David Jones 20:31
MMWR. Oh, I'm so sorry.

Jeanine Adinaro 20:33
But it's a it's a really important thing, because it's the main mechanism for people to communicate across the country and doctors to see, like during the HIV, the start of the HIV epidemic. It was literally some doctors in New York, read something from some doctors in California and were like, Oh, that looks a lot like what we're seeing here is what you're seeing what we're seeing, you know, and that it's that kind of communication that it facilitates

David Jones 21:00
No, that's that's good, but I just started imagine a bunch of very morose people.

Jeanine Adinaro 21:04
Maybe, maybe. But anyway, so the... CDC MMWR from June of 2017 reported a case about a baby in Oregon. And so the baby was born full term, uncomplicated pregnancy, uncomplicated delivery. And at 37 weeks of pregnancy, the mom was screened for Group B Streptococcus agalactiae, which you're gonna have to like hearken back to your obstetrics class, it usually just gets abbreviated as GBS or group B strep, you remember anything about this?

David Jones 21:41
Oh, well see. Now I'm an expert on this sort of thing. But I think for our listeners who aren't you're going to have to explain it a little bit more, yeah,

Jeanine Adinaro 21:48
so Group B Strep is a normally occurring bacteria, approximately 25% of women have it in their vaginal or rectal area.

David Jones 21:59
So it's not super uncommon.

Jeanine Adinaro 22:02
No, it's not super uncommon, okay, where where it can be a problem is if you have a baby that's born by vaginal delivery, they get exposed to the GBS like I'm making this gesture over my face right they go through the birth canal they get smeared up with the with the Group B strep

David Jones 22:20
right now that you can't see this Jeanine is miming being born. It's really it's really something to be seen.

Jeanine Adinaro 22:25
Now, in my mind eating the placenta anyway. So even so for moms, even if they are positive for Group B strep, only about one out of every 200 babies will actually develop symptoms of infection,

David Jones 22:40
that they got through the process of being born right

Jeanine Adinaro 22:41
right, the prop but those signs are really severe. The babies get respiratory distress, sometimes they get meningitis, sepsis, and there's such tiny new babies, right they their systems can't handle it and so they go from okay to in the ICU within in a couple of hours of being born. Okay. But again, even if you have a baby who's born to a mom who is positive for GBS, she only had the baby only has about a one in 200 chance of developing these problems, these complications.

David Jones 23:14
So right if they know that if they know that this risk.....

Jeanine Adinaro 23:17
This is why they screen the moms even if they are positive and what the what the OB GYN will usually recommend is IV antibiotics during birth. Okay, right. So you go into labor, you get your IV of antibiotics. And then the risk of developing, the baby developing complications, is about one in 4000. So that the antibiotics, the IV antibiotics drop the risk significantly.

David Jones 23:40
And this is just one in 4000 of the children who are being born to the moms who are Group B strep positive?

Jeanine Adinaro 23:46
Right.

David Jones 23:46
Right. So that's a relatively low risk, right.

Jeanine Adinaro 23:48
Okay. Okay, so this baby, the mom screamed negative for GBS.

David Jones 23:54
Was it false negative?

Jeanine Adinaro 23:55
You know, it's hard to say because it could also be that you know, like two weeks the colonization of GBS had finally gotten sufficient that she would have now been positive but it's just not when they do the screening.

David Jones 24:07
All right, so she tested negative

Jeanine Adinaro 24:09
tested negative gives birth to the baby very shortly after baby's born baby starts having problems breathing gets sent to the NICU and the blood culture for the baby comes back positive for GBS. It happens sometimes. Right? Apparently one in 200 times right and the baby gets an 11 day course of antibiotics

David Jones 24:26
Baby Okay?

Jeanine Adinaro 24:27
Baby, okay. Baby goes home. Everybody seems happy, right? Okay. But five days later, the baby's taken back to the ER, because the baby was starting to be unusually cranky. And again, the baby's blood tested positive for GBS. Now this is the bacteria that normally occurs in your gut sometimes migrates into the vagina. So then it's like, ah, how does this baby have GBS again?

David Jones 24:49
There's no direct route there.

Jeanine Adinaro 24:51
Exactly. But this time the baby has to be in the hospital for 14 days on antibiotics. So that's starting to get a little uncomfortable.

David Jones 25:00
Right, that's like that's, I think as a parent, I'd probably be terrified.

Jeanine Adinaro 25:05
So, a couple days into this 14 days, the doctor one of the doctors finds out that mom has been taking her encapsulated placenta.

David Jones 25:15
The plot thickens....

Jeanine Adinaro 25:18
the plot thickens. So three days after the baby was born, she got her capsules and she started taking them. When they tested the capsules, the capsules came up positive for GBS. And the official report says although transmission from other colonized household members could not be ruled out. The final diagnosis was late onset GBS disease attributable to high maternal colonization secondary to consumption of GBS infected placental tissue. Consumption of contaminated placenta capsules might have been might have elevated maternal GBS intestinal and skin colonization, facilitating the transfer to the infant. So it's a very complicated way of saying Mom was probably taking the capsules right? swallow them down not necessarily thinking oh, I need to scrub my hands now cuz I just maybe, you know like if she probably if she just been like chopping up raw chicken she would have thought to wash your hands afterwards right? But she was just you know, swallowing a couple capsules.

David Jones 26:20
And so was it touching the capsules and then touching her child?

Jeanine Adinaro 26:24
probably. Or she touched the capsules, that gave the the GBS a chance to get going on her skin.

David Jones 26:30
Now how does the, how does a bacteria like that make it through the drying and encapsulation process?

Jeanine Adinaro 26:38
Well? That's a good question

David Jones 26:41
because you would think they once it's desiccated you would think bacter would die

Jeanine Adinaro 26:46
Well in this particular case, the company because this was a professional company that did the encapsulation. Right and they did report they did heat it up to 135 degrees to kill, which is like I guess enough to kill salmonella.

David Jones 27:05
It's got to be more than 140 I would say even like if just knowing what I know from canning things, and food preparation, like you've got to do like low acid stuff that you do in a pressure cooker. Yeah. Is like 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Like it's above the boiling temperature water because of the pressure.

Jeanine Adinaro 27:26
They may be mean 130 degrees

David Jones 27:28
Celsius. Yes, maybe because because you have to hold food just at a restaurant. If you're holding food and you and you're holding it 130 degrees, a health inspector would come in and you get cited for that, because it has to be over 145

Jeanine Adinaro 27:43
the report did say that the company did have a protocol to ask about pre existing infection like HIV, hepatitis, herpes, chlamydia, syphilis and Lyme disease.

David Jones 27:53
Oh my

Jeanine Adinaro 27:54
But they did not anywhere ask about intra or postpartum infections. Right so and although they were heating up, I guess, the placenta enough to potentially kill salmonella, they didn't necessarily heat it up enough to kill the strep bacteria.

David Jones 28:13
Okay. All right, that makes sense.

Jeanine Adinaro 28:15
So this was by far and away the most dramatic case of disease transmission that from eating, consuming placenta that I could find the anti placentaphagy people are like, you could kill your baby doing this!

David Jones 28:33
It sounds so it sounds to me like this is you like you said, this is the one case you could find.

Jeanine Adinaro 28:38
So it's super outlier that everybody likes to point to. Right, right. But you could you could, you know, maybe get salmonella, if it's not done right. So anyway, you can you can cook it, you can make soup out of it, but some people apparently makes smoothies out of it. And it's not clear to me whether or not they just take the raw placenta and throw that in the smoothie? Or if it's the powder and you put it in like you would your protein powder? I don't know.

David Jones 29:06
I suppose it depends on how crazy you are.

Jeanine Adinaro 29:08
I suppose it depends. Yeah, yeah. And most people in at least in the Western world, it's it's capsules, capsules all the way,

David Jones 29:17
you know, just slice enough a bit out of the refrigerator and thrown it in the VitaMix.

Jeanine Adinaro 29:22
That's very Santa Clarita Diet right there.

David Jones 29:25
Yeah, the key See, look, so Okay, so, so, people both in the West and the Yeah, there is a tradition line in the east as well about using this in different ways, therapeutically.

Jeanine Adinaro 29:38
Right.

David Jones 29:39
Um, is it useful for anyone or is it supposed to be useful for anyone? Outside of moms? ,

Jeanine Adinaro 29:47
Okay so this is where we get into the whole Chinese herb thing. Okay. There's a lot of talk about that. Because a lot of the very pro-placentophagy people say it's ancient tradition,

David Jones 30:02
Is it?

Jeanine Adinaro 30:04
That's good question. So when I first started researching this, I found a op ed that was written for the New York Times by an OB GYN begging people to stop consuming their placentas. And one of the things he said was, there is no ancient tradition of people eating their own placentas. And I was like, oh, stupid doctor. You don't know what you're talking about. It's a Chinese herb and you don't even know this. And I, however, however, I did, so when I was in school, and we took the herb class. And you might remember this, one of the professors didn't like any of the American textbooks. So he did up his own thing where he just went through the book, and then talked and then somebody made notes, and then the notes got put into the spiral binding.

David Jones 30:57
Mm hmm. I remember that book.

Jeanine Adinaro 30:58
So I pulled out my spiral bound book, and looked up human placenta. And and notice what I've written here on the margin.

David Jones 31:07
FYI?

Jeanine Adinaro 31:08
FYI- which was the professor's way of saying, Yeah, it's in the official Chinese book, but don't worry about it because you're not going to use it. It's, there are lots of other herbs that do what this herb does but better, and you're not going to see it on your board exams. So I'm going to tell you just so that you know it exists, but I'm not going to dive deep into it.

David Jones 31:32
There are quite a few herbs like that, FYI. Yeah. And I do remember though, that we did have placenta in the herb pharmacy where we could, but it was I swear it was sheep placenta, maybe. And I can tell you right now

Jeanine Adinaro 31:49
Was it on the shelf next to the canned sardines?

David Jones 31:51
I never used it. Yeah, because I was like, because I think the same thing is as the instructor wass like, there are things that do a better job that are not, you know, animal origin

Jeanine Adinaro 32:04
So anyway, so pulling out that book I noticed like, okay, it talks a lot about like treating really chronic asthma. It's was used for like late stage tuberculosis where the person was just wasting away but during the consumption phase of consumption. Really severe cases of infertility or impotence. Like that was what it was. That's what it was indicated for. So that was one class but then I had this other class. And the professor, who was an American, went on at great length during class one day about how when his wife had their child he and he made it sound like it was this clandestine operation, though. My guess is it was since the baby was born in like Southern California. It was a lot more like your experience. Can we have the placenta? Yeah, sure, whatever. And he took it and made soup out of it

David Jones 33:01
Okay,

Jeanine Adinaro 33:02
so at least he cooked it

David Jones 33:03
again getting nauseated but keep going.

Jeanine Adinaro 33:05
And then he talked about how when then when she drank it, within two sips, it was like magic and the color came back to her face. And, you know, it was this miracle cure for childbirth.

David Jones 33:18
You know, what if you're instructing other people on how to use herbs, right, and you tell stories about things that are like magic that irritates the snot out of me

Jeanine Adinaro 33:27
As it should. But of course, that's the story that stuck with me. So when I read this, New York Times op ed, I was like, oh, stupid doctor. He didn't know what he's talking about. Okay, so then I kept researching, I kept digging, right. I actually wrote in my notes here, fucking doctor. And I found a blog by a practitioner named Sabine Whilms. And her blog is called Happy Goat productions. Okay, that's just a happy name right there. She spent her whole career doing translations into English of truly classical Chinese texts, like from the actual classical characters,

David Jones 34:11
okay.

Jeanine Adinaro 34:12
And she has this whole article about this and she talks about well, the first time that human placenta is mentioned in any text, as best as anyone can tell, is in 1593 where Li Shi Zhen in the text Compendium of Materia Medica refers to the placenta as the purple river vehicle, which in Chinese becomes its name that gets used today, which Zi He Che, and I apologize profoundly to Mandarin speakers out there for my gross mispronunciation. She points out that in a more expanded way, in 1694, in The Essentials on Materia Medica, there's actual instructions that emphasize that good placenta must be processed right after birth and must come from a woman with perfect health. Wrning that placenta that contains fetal poison is harmful. It is prepared by rinsing it clean then simmering and liquor drying it and grinding it into a powder. She points out that if you had a woman who was in perfect health when she delivered the placenta, she doesn't need to consume the placenta. Right?

David Jones 35:31
That would stand to reason

Placenta is perscribed for people who have really severe infertility, severe consumption, severe asthma. This is not the person who's just delivered the placenta when she's in perfect health

So what are they going to do with that placenta?

Jeanine Adinaro 35:45
Simmer it in liquor, and dry it, and grind it into power, and give it to the sick people!

David Jones 35:48
Okay, all right. So that was the point is is take it from the moms who helathy moms and give it to the sick mom, right? Okay.

Jeanine Adinaro 35:56
The healthy moms don't need it. And the sick moms have placenta that have quote unquote fetal poison.

David Jones 36:03
Sure. What does that look like today? Is there a modern? Like is fetal poison, like strep?

Jeanine Adinaro 36:09
Yeah. Okay. Yeah, like disease. Okay. Right. So her point is there aren't instructions in the classical text saying feed the placenta to the mom right after she's given birth, and probably not her dinner party either.

David Jones 36:23
So where'd that come from?

Jeanine Adinaro 36:24
Yeah, that's a good question.

David Jones 36:26
The idea that you that even someone in good health would consume their own placenta,

Jeanine Adinaro 36:30
I think where it comes from is grandma Chinese medicine. And by that, I mean, like for generations, grandmas have been saying, Oh, you have to eat the soup. Right. And if you are in a particularly rural, particularly poor, malnourished community, you probably don't have a lot of cans of sardines to feed the mom. So you make do with what you have and you make the soup out of the placenta,

David Jones 36:59
But then isn't child birth considered to be something akin to trauma?

Jeanine Adinaro 37:04
Yeah, little bit. Yeah. And so stressful to be sure.

David Jones 37:07
Right. And so would giving birth and being in excellent health, which means basically going through trauma, blood loss,

Jeanine Adinaro 37:17
sure.

David Jones 37:18
Wouldn't that sort of be considered enough loss or trauma to be able to eat the placenta?

Jeanine Adinaro 37:24
I mean, I think you get into this sorta, that's a good question like. So Sabine Whilms argues that classic texts say this is super, super strong medicine. Right? And so mom in excellent health who's just undergone the trauma of childbirth, maybe she needs a little bit of medicine. But certainly, when I looked in our other textbooks that say how this is used, they're combining it with things like astragalus and ginsegn , which already really strong, and it's like, isn't this a little redundant here? And so then, you know, there's also this argument like okay, so this is chock a block full of hormones,

David Jones 38:02
right?

Jeanine Adinaro 38:03
Do you really want to be messing with the hormones if the person's already in good shape? I don't know.

David Jones 38:08
I would reason, probably not.

Jeanine Adinaro 38:11
Uh huh.

David Jones 38:12
But then I honestly don't know like if you cuz cuz here's the thing is if you're giving someone just hormones like a panel of hormones, even though they only need

Jeanine Adinaro 38:25
I don't know that messing with hormones is is, you know in a unfettered kind of ways great idea

David Jones 38:30
now willy nilly just

Jeanine Adinaro 38:32
Yeah, the point is Chinese herbology does have human placenta, but not moms cooking it up and eating it right after childbirth. I will add here so human placenta is banned from importation into the United States.

David Jones 38:50
That seems like a good idea.

Jeanine Adinaro 38:51
And then I did a little digging because I remember when we were in China studying, being at the herb market and seeing baskets that were labeled as dried Human placenta. Do you remember that?

David Jones 39:01
I do not remember that

Jeanine Adinaro 39:03
they were like the size of hockey pucks?

David Jones 39:05
Okay, well, they processed and dried and Yes, okay. Yeah.

Jeanine Adinaro 39:08
But so I actually did some more digging and reached out to one of our professors and said, Hey, has this been banned from trade in China as well? And she was like, I don't know. And so she reached out and emailed one of her colleagues back in China, who came back and said, yes, this has been banned from trade in China.

David Jones 39:27
I imagine there's a black market.

Jeanine Adinaro 39:29
Of course, there's a black market. And I read this whole article about how that black market is alive and well in Beijing and all those women who don't want their placentas who are like, "no, that's gross, man." There's an orderly in the back, who's willing to bag it up and hand it out the back door to the woman who processes them and sells them. And the one woman that, you know, anonymously answered questions for the newspapers says she can sell anywhere between two and four placentas a day. She processes them you know. I mean, she's doing a value added thing.

David Jones 40:05
Okay, so how much does it cost to get a human placenta on the black market?

Jeanine Adinaro 40:11
so she was talking about how she encapsulates it and puts it into pills. Hmm. So I don't so they were breaking down the cost based on that it was about a buck a pill. Which is a lot I think I don't but I don't know how many you get out of a

David Jones 40:23
well and also it that's a lot in China. Yeah, that's a very expensive that would be Yeah, yeah.

Jeanine Adinaro 40:30
So it's expensive. But yeah, there's a lot of people who take it because they're convinced that like it's gonna cure their infertility that it's gonna I don't know cure their tuberculosis, nah that's probably not why they're taking but but that it'll give them longevity and health and

David Jones 40:47
laws that prohibit things are really the ultimate value add, aren't they

Jeanine Adinaro 40:50
aren't they? Yeah, we just take the price from two cents a capsule to $1 a capsule! Yeah,

David Jones 40:57
yeah. Alright, so

Jeanine Adinaro 40:59
that's what that's what I got on human placenta. I'm not, I'm not going to come, I'm not going to come down one way or on the pro or anti

David Jones 41:05
right so which was which faction you're not in faction?

Jeanine Adinaro 41:09
I'm not picking a faction my baby making days are over. I never it never occurred to me to eat my placenta when I was making babies, so I'm like, I'm staying out of this one

David Jones 41:20
Just sell yours out the back door, on the loading dock to the hospital.

Jeanine Adinaro 41:24
I did not. I didn't get a cut. All I'm gonna say is if, if you feel compelled to do this, just make sure you cook it first.

David Jones 41:32
But are there any other recommendations besides cook it? Like, should you should someone seek the counsel of someone who's done this before? Like, is there a safe way to do it?

Jeanine Adinaro 41:41
Yeah, and it probably shouldn't be Kim Kardashian,

David Jones 41:43
or is the safest way to do it to not do it?

Jeanine Adinaro 41:47
You know, I would just say

David Jones 41:48
because you don't need to anyway.

Jeanine Adinaro 41:49
Yeah, I mean, if you have an iron rich diet,

David Jones 41:53
like get an Apple Watch how you know in like if you gotta do something trendy, do something that's not eating your own placenta

Jeanine Adinaro 41:58
That new Fit Bit Versa 2 is supposed to talk to Spotify. Now, I don't know how they talk to each other what they say, but I don't know. Yeah, I don't know. I would, I would definitely you know, it's tough because right if you're just going to go in and ask your ob gyn in your quickie seven minute appointment, you're probably going to get, "Mahh, don't eat that! I mean that that's gross." Right.

David Jones 42:22
Right, which is someone....

Jeanine Adinaro 42:23
Look at this report of the baby who got GBS

David Jones 42:26
and for someone who's interested in doing it, the only thing they need to make them want to do more is to have a Western physician say No, don't do that. No, don't do that. Because then they're gonna go, Oh, you just don't want me to have the health benefits of eating my own placenta, right?

You know, no, that's not the case.

Jeanine Adinaro 42:43
But my recommendation is do not try to stand and say, oh, but this is traditional Chinese medicine,

David Jones 42:49
because it really isn't

Jeanine Adinaro 42:51
No.

David Jones 42:52
Oh, have you been cooking anything interesting. I don't think

Jeanine Adinaro 42:55
I have a topic for today's what you've been cooking.

David Jones 42:59
All right. What's your topic?

Jeanine Adinaro 43:01
Brussels sprouts

David Jones 43:02
Okay, I like brussels sprouts.

Jeanine Adinaro 43:04
In my house where we need to talk about today is less about the cooking of the Brussels sprouts and more about what I call the Brussels sprouts Cold War.

David Jones 43:12
Okay, what's going on there is so

Jeanine Adinaro 43:15
just to give you a little background

David Jones 43:17
is Russia messing with your brussels sprouts? They ruin everything.

Jeanine Adinaro 43:20
when I was like, maybe three or four years old, I watched the cartoon Popeye. Remember Popeye the sailor man canned spinach and it had like cocaine like effects on his strengthen and invulnerability,

David Jones 43:37
more like cocaine mixed with ketamine. And meth.

Jeanine Adinaro 43:41
And so then I went to my mom and was like "Mom, can I have some spinach?" Right rather predictably, my mom was like, "I don't have spinach. I have these frozen brussels sprouts." So like in the box, the bird's eye box of frozen brussels sprouts.

David Jones 43:58
Was she able to convince you that Brussels sprouts did the same thing?

Jeanine Adinaro 44:01
She takes them out and put them in the microwave. And then said here, eat these, as I'm sure you can imagine I was quite put off Brussels sprouts for a long time.

David Jones 44:11
I can imagine that sounds kind of gross. Yeah, that's gross placenta, but in the same category

Jeanine Adinaro 44:17
So for decades, I was like people would offer me brussels sprouts to be like, nope, don't like brussels sprouts. Nope. No, thank you like, and then, two years ago, we were visiting my brother in law. And he was like, I'm making brussels sprouts. And I'm like, great, How delightful. And he said, these are the unofficial food of our household. We have these this recipe like once a week. He basically fried up a little bit of pancetta. First.

David Jones 44:44
Starting off, right,

Jeanine Adinaro 44:45
right. Okay, because everything's better bacon. He takes the Brussels sprouts cuts it in half. Right. So now you got like the two little halves, little little baby cabbages, basically. Coats that with some olive oil. pretty generous amount of salt, and he said salt it like you're salting popcorn at the movie theater. And garlic powder. Mix that all up. Meanwhile, when the pancetta is like not quite crispy you put the Brussels sprouts into the pan and then mix it all up and put it on fairly high heat so that and put the flat sides of the Brussels sprouts so they get that crispy. Well the salt does this thing where it gets kind of coaty.

David Jones 45:33
Is that the technical word?

Jeanine Adinaro 45:34
I yeah, yeah. Okay, now I've spent a lot of time at culinary school. And so I did actually because I didn't want to be rude to my brother in law. Like I've insulted plenty of people by saying No, thank you. I'm not eating your brussels sprouts. But I didn't want to be rude to my brother in law. So I tried them and they were delicious.

David Jones 45:49
Sounds, it sounds good.

Jeanine Adinaro 45:50
And I was like, wow, Brussels sprouts don't have to suck. So I come home and I start making brussels sprouts. My oldest son loves them. Okay. My husband does not. And my kids who were always like with the kids like, Oh, you have to try one bite, are like, Daddy, you have to try one bite. And he's like, "I ate plenty of Brussels sprouts as kid," which that was like the first shot fired in the war. I was like, are you comparing my cooking to your mother's?

David Jones 46:29
That sounds like dangerous territory,

Jeanine Adinaro 46:31
very dangerous territory because

David Jones 46:32
if my wife cooked I would not do that.

Jeanine Adinaro 46:34
As I pointed out to my husband, most of my mother in law's cooking, were generously seasoned with despair and resentment. The woman did not like cooking. She resented the fact that she had to cook for her family. She took it out on them in the food. I have to imagine she used my mother's method of microwaving frozen brussels sprouts.

David Jones 46:55
Oh man, that's sad.

Jeanine Adinaro 46:56
So my husband he won't eat them. He complains about it when I make them he's like you make the house smell bad.

David Jones 47:04
They do make the house smell bad

Jeanine Adinaro 47:05
The smell lingers for days, you know?

David Jones 47:07
Yeah, it does. He's not wrong. No last time we had brussels sprouts my wife walked in She goes, Oh, you know that Brussels sprout funk? Yeah, that's going on. I was like, Yeah,

Jeanine Adinaro 47:19
But so, but because my older son eats them and likes them. And and it's a vegetable. Yeah, sure.

David Jones 47:26
Even though it's got bacon,

Jeanine Adinaro 47:26
I'm not taking off the menu. Okay, right. So make it once a week. Meanwhile, my little son who eats no vegetables has taken dad's refusal to eat brussels sprouts as, "Well, this just justifies all my refusals to eat anything." Yeah. So now we're locked in this cold war over brussels sprouts.

David Jones 47:44
Is there any chance of détente

Jeanine Adinaro 47:46
No.

David Jones 47:47
We usually I usually toss mine in little elbow salt and pepper. Yeah. And then put them on a baking tray and, and do a three temperature step like so. There's Going to be 20 minutes at like 350. And then 20 minutes at four and then maybe not quite full 20 minutes at 450.

Jeanine Adinaro 48:09
Why?

David Jones 48:10
Because the first steps, steams them how to cook them, right. So the first step sort of dehydrates them, it cooks them, so that as you bring the temperature up, and they they create a lot of flavor compounds, this browning does, but then also like when the little bits of the leaves kind of pull away a little bit because of the way that they're cooking,

Do you leave them whole or cut them in half?

No I cut them in half. and then I put the cut side down, and then usually kind of toss him a little bit. And so what you want is that sort of like that, a little bit of crispy, a little bit of brown, and then a little bit of sort of that soft bit on the inside.

Jeanine Adinaro 48:51
Okay, so tell me the temperatures again, you start at

David Jones 48:53
350, 400 and 450, as I sort of as I bake them, and that's what I do, and then my wife, she loves a toss them with a little bit of balsamic vinegar. I like toss him with a little bit of garlic butter.

Jeanine Adinaro 49:09
All right, all this talk about brussels sprouts and placenta

David Jones 49:13
is it making you hungry?

Jeanine Adinaro 49:13
I'm hungry for lunch. It's lunchtime.

David Jones 49:15
All right, well then I let's call that a wrap.

Jeanine Adinaro 49:17
All right, it's a wrap

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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